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Paramount restarts Simon & Schuster sale process

May 4, 2023
Illustration of a book with the pages made of money.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Paramount Global has restarted the sale process for book publisher Simon & Schuster, CEO Bob Bakish said this morning during the company's earnings call.

Why it matters: This is Paramount's second try to find a buyer after regulators blocked a proposed $2.2 billion merger with Penguin Random House last year.

Details: Paramount CFO Naveen Chopra told analysts they have strong initial interest from buyers and that a deal could be announced by the end of the year.

  • During the Q&A portion with analysts, Bakish added that Simon & Schuster's operating performance "is substantially superior to what it was when we brought it to the market before."

Catch up quick: Paramount (back when it was ViacomCBS) agreed to sell Simon & Schuster to Random House Penguin in a $2 billion deal in 2020, which would have merged the biggest and third-biggest book publishers in the U.S.

  • The deal was quickly met with antitrust scrutiny and successfully blocked last October by a federal judge over fears it would significantly reduce competition in the publishing market.

Of note: During the Department of Justice's trial last year to block the merger, HarperCollins CEO Brian Murray had expressed continued interest in Simon & Schuster in his testimony, but he admitted to being "shocked" by the $2.2 billion price tag.

  • French media conglomerate Vivendi previously had been eyeing the asset, too.
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